Saskatchewan

Settlements between Ottawa and 9 Sask. First Nations, for missed 1880s $5 treaty payments, total $38.5M

Settlements between the Government of Canada and nine First Nations in Saskatchewan announced this week, made for past damages, are valued at a combined total of more than $38.5 million.

Treaty annuity payments withheld during Northwest Rebellion

The federal government had an obligation to make yearly treaty payments of $5 per person to members of First Nations that signed Treaty Four and Treaty Six, but treaty annuity payments were withheld from 1885 to 1888 due to the Northwest Rebellion. (CBC News/Bryan Eneas)

Settlements between the Government of Canada and nine First Nations in Saskatchewan announced this week, made for past damages, are valued at a combined total of more than $38.5 million.

The agreements with the Treaty 6 and Treaty 4 communities are to make amends for $5-per-person annual payments, promised in the treaties, that were withheld from 1885 and 1888 due to the Northwest Rebellion.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett was in North Battleford to mark the settlements this week. She said the money will help the First Nations with economic growth and that settling claims is a key step toward healing and reconciliation.

"There are other things that we still have to resolve the wrongs that Canada did at the time of the Rebellion and since," Bennett told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition. "But this, I think, was a very welcome first step by those nations in Treaty 4 and Treaty 6."

The Government of Canada reached settlements with each of the nine First Nations communities between May 2018 and January 2019.

The communities were Poundmaker Cree Nation, Sweetgrass First Nation, Thunderchild First Nation, One Arrow First Nation, Little Pine First Nation, the Chakastapasyn Sector of James Smith Cree Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Red Pheasant Cree Nation and the Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man First Nations.

The settlements associated with the Northwest Rebellion come after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exonerated Chief Poundmaker in May. 

Poundmaker was convicted of treason-felony in 1885 after being accused of instigating violence in the Northwest Rebellion that year. Advocates had long called for his acquittal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays tobacco on the grave of Chief Poundmaker during the exoneration for Chief Poundmaker event at a community ceremony at the Chief Poundmaker Historical Centre on the Poundmaker First Nation on May 23, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards)

Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation settled a claim for treaty annuity with the federal government in 2017.

Bennett stayed in Saskatchewan Friday for the opening ceremonies of the Back to Batoche Festival.